Mergim Sadriji is the winner of the Switzerland Live Qualifier and has claimed a spot at the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2009 (FIWC09) Grand Final which will be held in Barcelona on 2 May.
On a glorious spring day in Bern, while many locals were strapping on skis and heading up the slopes, 64 players descended on the Champions Lounge in the Stade de Suisse to compete in the FIWC09 Swiss Qualification Event. The all-seater football stadium, which is the home ground of Axpo Super League outfit Young Boys, could not have been a more appropriate venue for some top-class EA Sports™ FIFA 09 football.
After some tough hours of competition, the 16 finalists enjoyed some very special treatment: they received their adidas finalists' shirts in the Young Boys dressing room, then were given the unique opportunity to walk through the tunnel and line-up on the sacred pitch at the Stade du Suisse. The Swiss National Anthem was then belted out by both players and spectators around the stadium, making the Round of 16 feel like a high-stakes international football match.
After winning all seven of his group matches, Mergim was in confident form as the Round of 16 knock-out stage commenced. Any doubts that the 16-year old may have peaked too early were quickly put to rest as he continued to dominate every match. Playing as Manchester United, Mergin sealed a 6-0 victory over countryman Sergio Soares in the final with a trademark Cristiano Ronaldo free-kick.
"I'm totally surprised and I hadn't expected to win. I am very happy about winning and have a very good feeling about the Grand Final in Barcelona. I will now train until May to make sure I can win." Said the EA Sports™ FIFA 09 Magician.
Davor denied once again
Davor Brescakovic, a familiar FIWC face, progressed to the Round of 16, looking for a consecutive Grand Final. After losing in the semi-finals at the same venue last year, Davor was so determined to qualify for the FIWC2008 Grand Final that he flew across the globe to compete in the New Zealand live qualifier; his tenacity paid off and he won!
When asked before the Round of 16 commenced about his chances of reaching the Grand Final this year, he said: "I'm not too confident I can qualify this year as I haven't been playing too much at home; every round I progress from this stage on is a bonus." Davor began the knockout stage with an emphatic 7-1 win, making his fellow finalists increasingly nervous.
Unfortunately for the 20-year-old, he fell at the same hurdle again this year, losing to eventual champion Mergim 2-1 in a close semi-final. Davor will have to concentrate on qualifying online or book a plane ticket to one of the remaining cities that have upcoming live qualification events.
Stars visit the Stade du Suisse
Aside from turning out to watch a high standard of virtual football, spectators were delighted to have the opportunity to meet Grasshoppers football-star Davide Calla. Davide popped in to take part in an exhibition match against Swiss national beach soccer star Stephan Meier. Calla beat Meier 2-1 in a highly entertaining match on the virtual field.
The FIWC09 continues its busy schedule, crossing the channel for the UK Live Qualifier event on Monday.